Michelle Martin

A day at the park

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

I used to have a quote tacked on the bulletin board over my desk: “If I was going to storm a pill box, going to sheer, utter, certain death, and the colonel said, ‘Shepherd, pick six guys,’ I’d pick six White Sox fans, because they have known death every day of their lives and it holds no terror for them,” from humorist Jean Shepherd.

Shepherd, perhaps best known for “A Christmas Story,” also said, “Being a White Sox fan meant measuring victory in terms of defeat. A 6-5 defeat was a good day.”

As I write this — just after winning by a walk-off wild pitch — the White Sox are in first place by 3.5 games in their division and have the best record in the American League.

Early projections this year were high for the team, Chicago’s nearly perennial non-lovable losers, but a spate of early injuries left fans wondering if our silver lining would be at least one more season of good seats available for less than $10 each in September.

Then something strange happened: Players that weren’t supposed to be good stepped up. Andrew Vaughn, a rookie who never played higher than A-ball and hadn’t played outfield since a youth league tournament became the everyday leftfielder. Yermín Mercedes, a backup catcher with 10 years in the minor leagues, was American League Rookie of the Month for April. Billy Hamilton, a speedy defensive and baserunning specialist, had four hits in a game.

But we White Sox fans know it’s a long season, know that things don’t often work out for our Sox. I’m more than 50 years old; I have been alive for exactly one White Sox American League pennant and one White Sox World Series title, both in 2005.

Because that’s the thing: Sometimes things do go right. That year, it seemed, nearly everything went right, and the team closed out the season with a 11-1 record in the playoffs.

And promptly missed the postseason the following year, finishing third in their division.

Nothing in this world is guaranteed, nothing except that our time here is limited. And most of us don’t really know what our time is. All we can do is the best we can with the day that we are living right now, and place our hope in the hereafter.

That is the message of the end of the Easter season, with Ascension and Pentecost sealing the good news of the resurrection: Jesus died, and he rose from the dead for our salvation. That battle has already been won. When things appeared the darkest, new light appeared.

I don’t know how this baseball season will play out. I hope the Sox’ unlikely heroes continue their winning ways, and the team gets a late-season boost from the return of its injured stars, overcomes its 120-year history of never making the post-season two years in a row and goes all the way.

But if it doesn’t, well, catch me at the ballpark in September.



  • baseball
  • family life